Thursday, May 31, 2007

Virgil's Root Beer: A Slice of Heaven

Well let me start with this diclaimer: I AM A HUGE, HUGE FAN OF MOXIE SODA. In fact, I know of only another man who has an even greater love of Moxie than mine. That would be Adam.

Why did I tell you that? Virgil's is no ordinary root beer. In fact, calling it a root beer is a stretch in my book. It is more like a Moxie. Moxie claims to be a cola, but that is a stretch for me as well. They are in a class all their own. Let's examine Virgil's bottle.

Virgil's says:

"Using natural ingredients,
We brew a root beer so pure,
So rich and creamy,
You'll swear it's made in heaven"

"Using natural ingredients....."
The ingredient list is so large and complete, I do not want to list them all here (they are tagged below). Every flavor that is mixed within in this bottle compliments the other perfectly to give a wonderfully unique flavor. I got to tell you, this is the second brew that had cane sugar as the sweetner. It works.

"We brew a root beer so pure..."

The licorice and anise take over in this brew and annihilate any chance of a root beer aroma or taste from being experienced. The color is dark and brilliant like in a good root beer, but the head disappears within 5 seconds; maybe even 3 seconds. So again, it is not a root beer in my book.

"So rich and creamy...."

This is a very rich brew. The flavors do not leave your tongue for a good while after taking a drink. Trust me, you will not want them to leave. It wasn't creamy - not at all - BUT it didn't need to be. I think that line was just the good 'ol boys from the brewery showing their poetic talents.

"You'll swear it's made in heaven"

I do swear. And I dare you to swear too. This brew is on the top of my list of drinks to drink. If you like Moxie or are up to the challenge of drinking something new, fresh, and different - THIS IS IT!

Easily, 5 Frosty Mugs.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tommy Knocker Root Beer: Good Soda, Not Exactly a Good Root Beer

As Jeff indicated, this was once one of our favorites. I remember sending some to Jeff from Arizona and he bringing me back some from a trip to California. How I looked forward to the smooth crisp taste of a Tommy Knocker. As Jeff has indicated however, we never compared brews back then, we just enjoyed them. I must admit I was at first very surprised by Jeff's comments regarding our old favorite. That surprise was surpassed however when I popped the top.

The initial spritz was very weak, the color was slightly darker, and the pour was uneventful regarding foam. The bottle however was very cool, a long-neck amber bottle wrapped in a label any root beer lover could appreciate. An old long bearded miner wearing a lamp hard hat and holding a full frosty mug of brew. The label was awesome and one of the best I have seen, but the brew really fell short.

The taste was as Jeff described, a distinct hint of carmel, but it was very creamy and so smooth. The taste, although not root beer extract, was so inviting and flavorful that it alone places it on a distinct list of soda pop. But soda pop is not what the Rootbeer Brothers are here to evaluate. The fact that it is passed off as a root beer is kinda mind boggling. Tommy Knockers carries so many other varieties of flavors that one must wonder why they simply didn't just label this one Carmel Creme or something. So I love this soda but as a brew I am not impressed and in fact rather disappointed. There is a slight twist of root beer extract well below the creamy carmel so they have it in there but in far too short supply. They gain some ground with their very awesome label and long-necked bottle. I therefore rank this root beer with 2.5 Frosty Mugs.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tommy Knocker Root Beer: One for Caramel Lovers

When Adam sent me my last shipment one of the root beer bottles was busted. Fortunately, one Tommy Knocker survived.

I couldn't wait to re-try this root beer. This is one that Adam and I had enjoyed in the past. For the life of me, I couldn't remember what it tasted like. In the past we drank root beer for the shear enjoyment of the root beer flavor, but since the start of this blog, we are now forced to rate root beers against each other.

When I opened the "Tommy" there was relatively little spritz...almost none, but it did produce a descent head. Why was there very little spritz but descent foam? That was my question.... Hold that thought.

The root beer aroma that usually comes out of a good root beer was next to gone, instead it was replaced with a unique caramel smell. The color of the brew mimics most other root beers; again, not too light - not too dark. Drinking the Tommy is smooth, but still doesn't give a good, crisp root beer flavor; rather, it tastes more like caramel. Nothing on the ingredients would lead you to believe there are any other unique flavors added.

So back to the original question: No Spritz, but good foam and tastes like caramel.

I believe all of these have to do with their brewing process. Caramel is simply supersaturated sugar water heated over time. I believe this flavoring is actually added as a syrup of caramel and the consisitency of the it makes the carbonation stay trapped within the brew until poured, once poured it traps the carbonation into a nice foam. Obviously, I have no idea how they brew their soda - just a mere guess.

Overall, "Tommy" didn't provide me with what I wanted in a good brew - mostly because it tasted like a caramel soda instead of a root beer. But, if I was ever in Idaho Springs, CO I would definately want to stop by and tour the brewery. Maybe even pick up a free sample. 2 Frosty Mugs


Monday, May 14, 2007

Berghoff Famous Rootbeer: Big Bottle for a Big Brew

Berghoff is made in the heart of Chicago especially for the Berghoff Cafe and as one can expect, a big city like Chicago demands a big root beer. Not only does this root beer itself have big taste, the bottle is BIG too! As Jeff mentioned this brew comes wrapped up in a 32oz amber bottle, which alone can win the heart of most root beer lovers. I mean that much root beer in one place must be a good thing. To clarify I found this bottle also in the HEB in College Station, Texas.....sure is a long way from Chicago.

So my review, the bottle certainly wins some points, the taste, well the taste was interesting. I must admit after staring down this huge bottle for a few weeks I created some great expectations. What I was presented with however, fell a bit short. Don't get me wrong however, this draft is worth it's weight in gold (and that bottle isn't very light). The aroma came up short, didn't exactly send out the spritz of invitation one would expect. The color was that of A&W, not dark but not too light. The taste was better than the standard however, it had a much smoother taste, maybe less carbonation or more vanilla, regardless however it was a smooth full root beer taste. A very high quality root beer taste I might add. I think that high quality impression may have been achieved through the use of the pure cane sugar as Jeff mentioned, it had a very unique sweetness. For the most part this is a root beer worth keeping your eye out for, but not exactly worth driving 600 miles for or how ever far it might be for you to get to the windy city.
3.5 Frosty Mugs


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Berghoff Famous Rootbeer - Homerun

Tis' the season for baseball and this root beer is perfect for the season. One of the things I like about this brew is that it is packaged in the large 32 oz "Family-Size" bottle. It's label is distinct, but simple - so take a good look now so you will be able to spot it on the shelf in the future.

Berghoff does not knock your socks off with root beer smell when you open the bottle, but you do know it is a root beer. It pours smooth and has a deep - not dark - brown color. The head is high, thick and stays around longer than many other root beers you will try.

When looking at the ingredients, the only one that jumps out at you as unique is pure cane sugar as the sweetner. In fact, they make sure you do not miss it by printing it in BOLD typeface. I believe sweetening with pure cane sugar really pulls Berghoff out ahead of most other root beers you will find. With tha being said, if you want to score and score big this baseball season pull up a chair with a tall frosty mug of Berghoff and you will hit a homerun. 4 Frosty Mugs.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Hill Country Fare Root Beer Soda - ehhhhhhh. Well, at least it's cheap.

Well, I actually recieved this root beer quite a while ago, but due to one thing or another it has sat chilling in the refrigerator ever since. I apologize to anyone who has been desperately waiting my review. :0)

Let me first start off, that it was definatly not worth the wait.

As you can see from the picture the marketing department did not splurge on can design, but as Adam mentioned this is expected from generic sodas and helps root beer lovers like us to be able to buy more of it at a cheaper price.

This was really a tricky mug for me to judge because when you open up this can of root beer and pour it into a frosty mug it really looks appealing. It has a strong root beer aroma and a really exceptional dark root beer color. The head after the pour is rather large, but very short lived.

Then the first taste.....

Although it was "aged" in the chill box for a good 2-3 weeks, it did not improve the flavor. I felt it to be a rather "watered-down" root beer taste. In fact, because of the original presentation of the root beer following the pour into my mug, I had to take another judging swill to ensure that it was a true watered-down flavor that I was experiencing. I am still not 100% sure if that is what I was tasting, but regardless, it did not register as a quality root beer. 1 Frosty Mug